July 22, 2013

"A New Liturgy" For awhile now, I've been watching Aaron Niequist from afar, admiring his work. He has undertaken the beautiful task of writing "a new liturgy"-- a mix of spoken word, Scripture, original compositions, and re-arranged hymns-- for the themes of life. Aaron and I share the belief that all of life can be received as a gift and offered back to God in grateful praise. This is what it means to live eucharistically. He has made four of these projects around different themes, from God's love to the splendor of creation. I have been so blessed and encouraged and inspired by them. Today, Aaron releases the fifth project: a liturgy about work. It is divided in two parts, one designed to be prayed along with on the way to work, and one designed to be prayed along with on the way from work. I frequently talk with people who are trying to find meaning in their work. At least part of the answer is found in offering our work-- our hands and gifts and time and moments-- to God at the start of each day. I think this project gives voice to such an offering. When I have written or taught on the need for a fresh imagining of the liturgy, for the Spirit to lead us to give new voice to words and phrases that reflect and reveal the Trinitarian God we worship, I think of Aaron's work. This project is full of beautiful music-- songs and sounds that will awaken wonder and worship in the heart of the listener. This project is full of profound prayers, many culled from the rich prayerbooks of the historic Church. This project is full of well-placed words, from Scripture and from other places, that are sure to be food to your soul. Here's...
My "Oxford Paper" on Congregational Music Next week, with fear and trepidation, I will be presenting a paper at an academic conference on congregational music at Ripon College, one of the Anglican (ministry training) colleges of Oxford University. I confess: I'm more than excited about it, honored to have this opportuniy...and scared out of my wits! I feel a little like Bilbo Baggins, wandering out into places that are far beyond my knowledge and experience! Just to clarify, I'm not going as part of my doctoral studies, which are actually at Durham University and begin this September (long-distance, part-time). This is an academic conference on congregational music that has been convened once before (2011), and was exclusively (I think) for academics. This year, however, they wanted to involve some practitioners, and by a strange series of events (one of the conference organizers sat in a workshop I taught at Mission:Worship last November in Eastbourne), I was invited to submit a proposal to present a paper at this year's conference. After sweating over 150 words, I sent in my proposal abstract and waited a few months til the decision about which papers were chosen was announced. When I received word that my paper had been accepted, I freaked out. Then began the work of researching and writing. ------------------------- WHAT'S MY PAPER ABOUT? The sub-theme I chose (of the list of possible choices they assigned) is the following: A Futurology of Congregational Music Papers on this subtheme will offer creative, considered reflection on the future of congregational music. What new emerging shapes and forms will—or should—congregational worship music take? Will congregational song traditions become more localized, or will they be further determined by global commercial industries? What must scholars do to provide more nuanced, relevant, or critical perspectives on Christian congregational music? My paper identifies the implicit claim...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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